Aneesah Bakker

Owner/Director/Developer, Creative Change Coaching

This conversation is closed.

When we think we have no options, can we change our perception? Does having options make us happier?

Like with "everything", so too there "is" a paradox of choice.

1. Are we happier when we think we have a choice?
2. What if circumstances are such that there "are" no choices, e.g. during the holocaust. Lessons learned indicate that perceiving a choice in such circumstances can create "happiness".
3. Can too much choice, create unhappiness?
4. Are there different types of choices?
5. Whose responsibility is it to change our perception?
6. In any given situation, would you try to change the circumstances before you try to change your perspective?
7. Can the economics of happiness be separated from the economics of things/consumerism?

A related ted talk on the Ted radio hour is the talk by Barry Schwartz: Does Having Options Make Us Happier:
http://www.npr.org/2012/05/04/151879693/does-having-options-make-us-happier

  • May 10 2012: I think we dont have free choice at this moment since we are controlled trough nature,and as we know : nature is the source of everything and its system is perfect although its disturbed by us human beings. Nature is the giving force and human beings are the recievers or the consumers.And because we want to recieve and consume more than is nescary,we disturb this planet by stealing from its sources only to use for luxury and own benefit.
    About your question who,s responcibility it is to change our perception I think its nature.If we stop thinking about ourself or own benefit and we connect with other people in an altuistic way then we already create a spark from the energy of nature and become a giving force as well instead of a recieving force.And our mutual connection and the energy of nature will change our perception...
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      May 11 2012: I agree with you that nature is the source of everything... we come from nature and we are nature - we are not separate.

      The nature of nature is freedom, to connect and create new connections, diversity, growth and expansion. When we are in touch with our true nature, we realize we are not meant to be consumers but appreciators, that we can choose to work with nature and be responsible for when we choose to deny our true nature.

      Connecting and Reconnecting with the energy/essence of nature will grow and change our perception. The nature of nature is change...
    • May 12 2012: Hi Gerard,
      What is your definition of nature? Human nature in the perspective of many is destructive because of our "animal instinct". Yet what animal destroys their home, family, environment out of anger, hate and jealousy? Human nature, also based on our "animal instinct" is loving, kind and caring.

      For every human that receives and consumes their is someone who give and creates. Some are chopping trees down others are reforesting.

      The way we connect with others will depend on our perception of ourself. Do you consider yourself altruistic? What does this mean? Does it mean giving while denying yourself? Many people's perspective of receiving is, it is wrong. Yet if we receive reluctantly we take the pleasure out of giving.

      It's all there, always, the good, the bad, the destroyer and the creator, and everything in between. What you choose to see and focus on is your perspective, it can encompass several views simultaneously. Find a balance that brings you joy.
      Cheers
      • May 13 2012: Defining altruism is indeed a very important point -- I would just like to offer a comment on that.

        People tend to think its a matter of devoting one’s time and resources to charitable works towards individuals, or the reforming of society for the general good. But the problem here is that the motivation is essentially egoistic.

        The action is generally to allay the psychological pain of conscience, or the pleasure and pain of inborn empathy; to gain a feeling of greater self-worth or outright pride; to gain social recognition/status, or to gain reward and avoid punishment in a religious sense.

        There is also a minority of people who just want to give of themselves for no rhyme or reason. Unfortunately this isn’t altruism -- its mindless impulse, insanity.

        If we follow the natural model of altruism, and translate it to the conscious human framework, the matter clarifies. It is in integration with the whole that others are understood to be part, even the greater part, of oneself. The state would be to take happiness in the pleasure of another, or even more so, the whole -- and suffer in their pain. [This should not be mistaken with empathy, where one actually feels pleasure or pain in their own person.]

        The closest idea we generally have to this is in the family bond. It can also be understood as the ideal expressed in religion of loving one’s fellow as oneself, and the secular parallel of enlightened self-interest.
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          May 13 2012: Hi E Pines,
          I agree that the motivation or intent of giving is an important piece of the puzzle regarding options, perceptions and creating happiness/contentment.

          I also agree with your statement that "it is in integration with the whole that others are understood to be part, even the greater part, of oneself".

          So, if we percieve ourselves as part of the whole, then "how we connect with others will depend on our perception of ourself", as Jennie insightfully states.

          We generally cannot give to others something we do not have for and with ourselves, and I observe that sometimes, people are on a journey to learn about various parts of "self". I have witnessed people starting to do charitable works for reasons that you may not consider for the greater good....ego, or mindless inpulse, as you say.

          At least they are taking one of the first steps toward realizing the concept of the whole, are they not? I've seen many people start out with one intent, and in the process of learning, growing and evolving, they discover another intent. I believe that whatever causes people to contribute to the whole is beneficial. And I totally agree with what Jennie says...The way we connect with others will depend on our perception of ourself. Many people's perspective of receiving is, it is wrong. Yet if we receive reluctantly we take the pleasure out of giving".

          I feel it is important to learn and practice the wonderful cycle of giving/recieving, and that means including ourselves in the whole:>)
  • May 12 2012: Hi Jenny thank you very much for your responce, about your question if I consider myself as altruistic ,I have to answer that im not because I dont have this quality it can only be reavealed in the connection between us...If we consider nature as a allegory of forces that is a perfect system then it cant be another way that we are not able to sence it with our five sences like taste,hearing,smell,touch,and seeing.
    With other words what we are percieving with our five sences is corrupted because we are recievers or negative force (egoistic) If we consider nature as the giving force of everything that is perfect,it doesnt matter how we call it :nature or Creator,or Light then it is the positive force.But we recieve this forces with our egoistic 5 sences so we dont get the real picture.This is only posible when we are able to raise above our egoistical desires and become equal to the positive force.
    Between this two forces we can find the balance.We need another mindset that makes the chsange from Me into We. If we connect with the right intention then its posible that we reveal the positive forces between us.
    This is how I look at it but of cause everyone has to find it out for themself

    This is a quote of Albert Einstein about the subject:“A human being is a part of the whole, called by us “Universe,” a part limited in time and space. He experiences himself, his thoughts and feelings as something separated from the rest — a kind of optical delusion of his consciousness. This delusion is a kind of prison for us, restricting us to our personal desires and to affection for a few persons nearest to us. Our task must be to free ourselves from this prison by widening our circle of compassion to embrace all living creatures and the whole of nature in its beauty. Nobody is able to achieve this completely, but the striving for such achievement is in itself a part of the liberation and a foundation for inner security.”
  • May 8 2012: According to Diana Boer, PhD, a researcher in Germany who has analyzed data from 420,599 subjects, having choices and control over your life is a better predictor of well-being than having money.
    Sonja Lyubomirsky, PhD, author of The How of Happiness agrees. She pointed to research that showed that lack of autonomy leads to greater stress and even poor health.
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    May 15 2012: The power of choice brings happiness, because having a choice is God's gift to man.
    But the danger of taking the wrong path is there. We also have to be sure of our freedom to make choices.Is it real freedom or an appearance of it.
    We should note that we may be free to choose, but we are not free from the consequences of our choices.
    Freedom to choose brings happiness, making the right choices retains it.
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    May 12 2012: How can we apply this concept of "leaky perspective" to our everyday life?
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      May 12 2012: Hi Daniel

      I just realized that I "replied" to you as a new "conversation"... please find my reply in the conversation thread.

      regards
      Aneesah
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    May 10 2012: The great Stephen Sondheim wrote 'the choice may have been mistaken, the choosing was not'. I say to my students 'get out and make a choice...one that matters.'

    When we spend time on choosing something relatively unimportant, we are diverting energy from more significant choices which take longer to seek out. Many of us currently exist in situations/circumstances with TOO MUCH choice in the WRONG things. I feel there is an imbalance between what we perceive as needing choices in and what would benefit us most if we knew what choices were available. I return to examples of coffee and mobile phones; countless combinations for both which I believe many think is a good thing but I think the range of choice in many less important aspects of our lives give us a sense of power and personality when really they afford us the ILLUSION of choice. I believe real choice lies through the detail aspects of its definition:
    1.The power, right, or liberty to choose; option.
    2. One that is chosen.
    3. A number or variety from which to choose: a wide choice of styles and colors.
    4. The best or most preferable part.
    5. Care in choosing.
    6. An alternative.

    I think yes, choice is very much linked to our perception of which of the above we think (if we do think consciously about it, that is) applies to the particular example. What matters is that we get better at making the RIGHT choices which impact most positively on ourselves and others. Ultimately we are responsible...when we say yes to an unimportant choice, we are saying no to an important one. Only we truly know (in ourselves) which is which. It's worth noting that choice takes energy, I think that's why we are prone to deferring it so often.

    That said however, asserting ourselves in the world as adults is difficult but harder for children. It's not easy but building confidence in our young people to make choices is crucial for their education and upbringing.
  • May 9 2012: The whole basis of one of the most effective approaches to psychotherapy--cognitive therapy--is changing perceptions of ourselves, the world and the future. It should be noted we always have a choice--what is limited is the variety and quality of options we perceive. Sometimes we misperceive what our options are and that leads us to question whether we have a "choice." Other times we actually have limited options, which can also lead us to question whether or not we have a "choice". Choice is something we always have, it's just not always easy to see. Even during the holocaust, people had choice. What was diminished was the range of options available to people depending on their religion, ethnic identity, sexual preference, etc. But "choice" was always there.

    As for creating "happiness"--I'm not sure what that word means. It is so vague, unanchored in any reality other than my (your) own perceptions of yourself, the world and the future that to speak of "creating" happiness is simply to say, in a less precise way--changing our perceptions. If "happiness" were based in something other than perception how could it be that people who are infinitely wealthy in many ways are "unhappy"? And, how could it be that people who are impoverished and lacking many basics can be "happy"?
  • May 8 2012: I think having options forces us to go through the process and make a decision. It forces us to think and really analyze what is best for us. We make mistakes, and some continue to continuously make mistakes and possibly never 'learn', however its a such a great intellectual challenge, a pursuit of happiness. Even if there are circumstances in which you are not given an option, you choose to decide how you feel, how you proceed, to fight, to continue to pursue what makes you right. For humanity, its important to allow for all choices, all options to be put forth. It determines our destiny, our growth. Options give us independence, and it is only the responsibility of the individual to change our perceptions, to learn, etc. In any given situation, I would learn about the topic, hear out anyone that has something to say, and then decide on what should happen; change my perspective, change the circumstances, do one first and perhaps change it later, etc. The economics of happiness can be separated from the economics of material (things/consumerism).
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    May 8 2012: Hi, I am a Master NLP coach trainer and practitioner. So here is my take on your questions. Perception is the basis of all that we experience. There is no reality in reality....Everything that we experience, observe, hear, and see are sole results of our perception. Two people can look, hear, feel, or experience the same event at the same time and come away with totally different perceptions. Why is this? There is always an option in the perceptual level.

    Happiness is a work without meaning as are all non-objective nouns. Many of us could have discussions what happiness is to us and have real disagreements as well. So to answer your question #1, the answer is, it depends on your definition of happiness, some may be happier with choices while other may be happier with perceiving they only have one choice.
    Even during the holocaust, people had choices and many people made other choices than to be cremated in gas chambers...when people feel they have more control, they may also feel happier...suicide was a choice better than being killed by others, perhaps..the perception that "there is only one choice" is just that, a perception but it is not reality.
    #3...same as above..depends on the person and their perceptions
    #4 Like colors of the rainbow, the are many choices to most events..what happens to you may not be a great perception especially if you wind up in a hospital, however, it is a great thing for the medical profession who earns a living by treating you...maybe be negative for you but quite positive for others, but it is the same event.
    #5. The responsibility lies in oneself and this gets into the area of personal responsibility.
    #6 By changing the perceptions all else changes as well all the way through the cycle to include consequences...
    #7. Depends on the person once again..some are happy with everything, others are happy with simplicity...a perception also, and there are those not happy with everything and always want more...
    Great questions!!!
  • May 13 2012: mm I agree..

    http://www.ppc.sas.upenn.edu/cvabs.htm

    http://www.annualreviews.org/doi/abs/10.1146/annurev.me.23.020172.002203

    This study shows that dogs that can´t control the shock they are receiving are more susceptible to depression. unfortunately you have to pay $20 to read it =. But in the first link I think u can have a good perception of this.
    I din´t remember the TED video I saw it, sorry.
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    May 12 2012: Hi Daniel,

    One of the practical applications is to find tools and techniques that work for you to cultivate mindfulness... to become aware of how we get in our own way

    and to become aware of how we empower ourselves.

    How do you know this? By learning to quiet the mind and connect with what you are feeling in your body. Are you feeling "discomfort" or are you feeling better.

    It takes daily practice, even one small change makes a difference. One of the best sources of information is to study yourself... what works and what doesn't work as well. Follow your heart, you are the expert on you.

    You probably have some useful practices, some you may apply consciously others you need to become aware of and enhance.

    A good place to begin, notice what makes you happy. If you are prone to regret, this will give you clues as to how you may get in your own way... through assumptions, expectations and beliefs. Consciously decide to find these and shift them.

    To summarize, trust yourself, follow your bliss and learn mindfulness :-)

    in one word: APPRECIATION!
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    May 11 2012: I have felt trapped. I truly felt that I had burned every bridge in my life. I am not religious so asking for help seemed out of the question. When I finally asked for help, and then learned to not expect life to go my way, and quit being so debilitating self-centered, I became free of the ego's demands. Much choice opened up to me, but the ego's restoration beat me down once more. And so it goes, ad infinitum.
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      May 11 2012: Pat,
      You say..."the ego's restoration beat me down once more". It sounds like you are giving the ego a life of its own? Who is in control of your ego?
  • May 11 2012: There is a study that associates no options to depression, it was already been citated in one TED video, but I can´t remember the name of it. I will try to find it.
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      May 13 2012: Dear Bruna, I have not yet found this study. It would be interesting to note what they looked at exactly and what the details of the findings were.

      What I did find was the talk where Dan Gilbert asks Why Are We Happy
      http://www.ted.com/talks/dan_gilbert_asks_why_are_we_happy.html

      Here is an excerpt:
      "It turns out that freedom, the ability to make up your mind and change your mind, is the friend of natural happiness, because it allows you to choose among all those delicious futures and find the one that you would most enjoy. But freedom to choose, to change and make up your mind, is the enemy of synthetic happiness. And I'm going to show you why. ...

      The psychological immune system works best when we are totally stuck, when we are trapped."

      This idea appeals to me - From personal experience and observation, also as an avid reader of success stories where individuals find themselves hitting rock bottom and decide there is no way but up, people have the capacity to resource the strength they didn't realize they had to rise out of depression and make new choices and create happiness!
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    May 11 2012: Thank you Jenni, even if we don't have friends, we have famILY and ILY at the end indicates "I Love You" which is probably seen in all possible blogs . By being open and frank with the family we can get a lot of confidence and joy out of it .

    Cheers,
    Bharath
  • May 10 2012: Perception truly dictates what one experiences in life. Have you noticed when you're feeling abundant $20 in the grocery store will buy you everything you wanted, and when you are feeling lack you walk away with very little? Therefore in many instances changing your perception will change your circumstances. Other times, such as the Holocaust this will not work. However, I would guess the people who were able to keep hope alive and looked for ways to make the best of their situation faired better than those whose perspective was one of despair.

    All sides of every situation are always present, intuitively we can feel all sides, then choose what feeling we want. What life really boils down, very simplified of course, is how we want to feel. This explains why even in their darkest hour people still feel joyful, and others who have everything are miserable.
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    May 10 2012: Aneesah, There are always options or choices. Some are certainly not pleasant. When given the opportunity I attempt the following:

    CTR = Choose the Right

    When returning home = Return with honor

    I am happiest when I look the guy in the mirror straight in the eye with no regrets.

    Remember that no one can make you feel bad or sad without your permission.

    All the best. Bob
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      May 10 2012: Hello Robert,

      About "CTR", I like that. I love exploring what I call "choice strategies". This week I discovered the "ARIA" model - Attention, Reflection, Insight and Action. (Jeffrey Schwartz, a neuroscientist) It takes the choice out of the "emotional" arena... and one is less likely to have regrets... because at that moment, I know I made a considered choice and it was the best available to me then.

      About "Return with honor" - yes, I think it is effective in reminding one to do the right/honorable thing. (When making choices, I take into consideration a value to honor all involved). I think choice can be navigated with a win-win mindset.

      Like you, living in honor/authenticity, ensures that I like what I see in the mirror - "with no regrets".

      It would appear, that many people are distracted not so much by the abundance of choice but more from a "fear of regret"! Regret does create unhappiness!

      All the best,
      Aneesah
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    May 9 2012: 1. Are we happier when we think we have a choice?
    Depends
    2. What if circumstances are such that there "are" no choices, e.g. during the holocaust. Lessons learned indicate that perceiving a choice in such circumstances can create "happiness".
    Yes, I have lost much due to unstoppable MS. I am mostly happy because I have figured out how to synthesize it
    3. Can too much choice, create unhappiness?
    It can but you can cut the choice out if you choose
    4. Are there different types of choices?
    Will that be coffee or tea? Do you like it here in this place of despair? I think so.
    5. Whose responsibility is it to change our perception?
    The salesmen, The candidates, The advertisers, Our parents but mostly ours.
    6. In any given situation, would you try to change the circumstances before you try to change your perspective?
    Yes, but maybe not always the best choice?
    7. Can the economics of happiness be separated from the economics of things/consumerism?
    Yes, they sure should be.
  • May 9 2012: i think every one should convince himself that he has a choice even if there isn't, when both options are bad but usually the one choose what he think is better for him.
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    May 9 2012: In terms of the question of whether too much choice can produce unhappiness, we have the following talk, presenting several research studies: http://www.ted.com/talks/sheena_iyengar_on_the_art_of_choosing.html

    I notice some people like to define themselves as having no choice even in situations in which they do, because it allows them to believe they are not in part responsible for where they are in their lives. The writer Steven Pressfield would call this a form of Resistance, or an excuse you tell yourself so as to avoid making your best effort in the situation in which you find yourself.

    We do always have choices of how we view a predictament we may be in. We can see something as an obstacle and fret over it or see it as an opportunity to learn, and maybe fret less. Someone may treat us badly and we may first attribute it to evil, but then we may be able to find a reason to feel sorry for the life that brought the perpetrator to this point.
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      May 10 2012: Dear Fritzie

      Thank you for the link. An exceptional talk, that makes powerful points. Her opening anecdote is very entertaining and gives one the insight that there are cultural and other differences re choice and perception of choice.

      I also enjoyed her explanation of how different people navigate choice, for example, when asked to choose between different types of soda.


      Watching this talk, I remember when I got the "aha" that choosing not to choose is a choice!... seems obvious but now and again, I need to remind myself of this, fortunately less and less as I have come to value self-determination, autonomy and cultivating an internal frame of reference more and more!
  • May 9 2012: We always have infinite options. seekfind
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    May 9 2012: Dear Bakker,options are a real Path, improves your maturity, ability to make decisions and gives you directions. Hoping to give you some reflections.Anaya
  • May 9 2012: A lot of this lack of inner autonomy comes from what some folks call the CIV or Critical Inner Voice. If that's a new concept to you get to know it!! Here's a great article about it

    http://www.psychalive.org/2012/02/silence-the-inner-voice-thats-stressing-you-out/
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      May 10 2012: Dear Max,

      I suspect the inner critic can create a lot of noise when one is faced with a choice. I also think that the CIV is what leads to regret... because what is regret, but a beating up on oneself for having made a "wrong" choice? This means that there is a whole emotional angst and baggage that is brought to the task of making a choice.

      There are many strategies to communicating with and befriending this CIV - also known as Gremlin amongst others. I often hear of success stories and they seem to have one main thing in common, the person names this CIV, perceiving it as a sort of "alter ego". It is a way of acknowledging and normalizing it, instead of resisting what will only grow stronger when resisted.

      Learning to find and cultivate the empowering inner voice is the antidote to this.
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    May 9 2012: Well all I can say is we need to always follow our inner most passion and dreams . Though the question is slightly hard to understand, we can say the answer is very simple
    When we face tough times in our lives , its only because god knows there something better in store for us
    Happiness comes out of socializing more than social networking .
    Kindness is the only virtue to happiness :)
    • May 10 2012: Well said Bharath,
      I like "Happiness comes out of socializing". Few people remember how hopeless they feel when laughing with friends.
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    May 8 2012: yes dear.
  • May 8 2012: My responses are
    1. Are we happier when we think we have a choice?Yes though frequently we perceive having a choice between equally bad options as no choice
    2. What if circumstances are such that there "are" no choices, Lessons learned indicate that perceiving a choice in such circumstances can create "happiness". Being the oppressed can be a place where you rely on the hope or dream of a future choice.
    3. Can too much choice, create unhappiness? Yes if choice creates too much opportunity cost it generally makes people less happy. I want a good sauce for my dinner store has too many options that I can't distinguish between can be hard on people. They may regret their time investment.
    4. Are there different types of choices? Yes
    5. Whose responsibility is it to change our perception? It is our responsibility to try to understand the perceptions around us by listening without demeaning. We do not all have to be social geniuses but we should try to approach views seeing both our view and their view and finding the common ground as well as addressing the differences. Certainly their are times to be the whistle blower saying what they are doing is intolerable, but you want to state this in a way the people actually hear you, and do not dismiss you as a radical (fill in blank here.)
    6. In any given situation, would you try to change the circumstances before you try to change your perspective? I try to understand the other persons views first, only then do I think I can change the circumstance, though in cases of violence, or entrenchment I think it can be necessary to change the dynamics of the situation so they can hear your prospective.
    7. Can the economics of happiness be separated from the economics of things/consumerism? Happiness has very little to do with how much you consume so i think the ideas are independent.
    There is also a difference between happiness and being satisfied. I choose to be satisfied and not regret my bad choices as much as possible.
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      May 8 2012: Dear Grant,

      Thank you for your considered answers! I will respond to one:

      1. Are we happier when we think we have a choice?Yes though frequently we perceive having a choice between equally bad options as no choice

      We all find ourselves, from time to time, in circumstances where we perceive there to be "equally bad options" . When I am in such a situation, it does appear that there is no choice. I re-assure myself that I have a choice and choose the "lesser of two evils".

      So I weigh my options and make a choice. I make a point of telling myself that I have a choice otherwise I feel dis-empowered!

      I suppose seeing something as a "bad options" is placing a value judgment, which is how we navigate options. I wonder to what extent it would be useful to revisit this "bad" choice with the intention of reframing different features of the way I perceive it. It reminds me of the saying:

      "Nothing is good or bad, but thinking makes it so".

      So, I agree with you, am just using this as an opportunity to re-examine my own perspective!
  • May 8 2012: This is just like a question of "If I have..., I will be happier."
    But more often than not, it is a short lived happiness.
    Perhaps one would feel exhilarated when they are given a better option but as time goes by and everything falls in, you may not remember the feelings you had now anymore.
    Thus, i think it's the perspective that matters more than options.
    Working around the situation allows insights and wisdom to be instilled, or even courage to face with any problems in the future. And the most important thing is, it stays with you for life.
    There is always a choice, only that people have to be courageous and responsible enough to handle the consequences of their decisions and trust themselves.
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    May 8 2012: 1. Obviously, who will not like to have choices.
    2. Such situations itself will make you helpless, and under such pressing circumstances, it is better to accept WHAT IS - the PRESENT - LET GO. All these are the choices in a sense, to accept ones fate. It can never create happiness - now that is a long shot, but surely it can infuse one with peace and calmness. As sages put it - 'to die consciously before death'
    3. Definitely. See the world around you and the countless unhappy people, ever growing because of multiple choices.
    4. Yes
    5.Primarily ones own, he/she has to be willing to learn. Seek out sages and savants and put his/her belief in their teachings .It may help.
    6. Yes would like to give a try, but not be aggressive. not a hammer and tong approach, but think it as challenge, see if something can be learnt. If the circumstances do not change, change the perspective.
    7. I do not understand what is meant by economic of happiness, but this much I know happiness is separate from the economics of things consumerism, which does not give happiness but short term pleasure. Pleasure and gratification are not happiness.
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      May 8 2012: Dear Asgar,
      Regarding:
      "2. Such situations itself will make you helpless, and under such pressing circumstances, it is better to accept WHAT IS - the PRESENT - LET GO. All these are the choices in a sense, to accept ones fate. It can never create happiness - now that is a long shot, but surely it can infuse one with peace and calmness. As sages put it - 'to die consciously before death'"

      I realize that people have different perspectives on the meaning of Happiness. there are times when we would not necessarily define our state of mind/experience as "happiness"... this is true for me. In this case, "peace and calmness" is close enough.

      I agree that there are situations where because of certain "boundaries" such as limited time in which to make a decision, it is useful to let go and "accept" rather than resist what is.
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    May 7 2012: Hello again Aneesah:>)
    Yes, I think/feel we can change our perceptions all the time when we are mindfully aware.

    Personally, I am more content knowing I have the ability to take in information and evaluate how I will use the information by making informed choices/decisions. I simply would not give up that choice, which we all have.

    I believe that happiness/contentment is a choice, which we can make in every moment, and I believe it is a state of mind which can be related to too many, or not enough choices depending on our underlying thoughts/feelings regarding choice. If we believe that too many choices create happiness/unhappiness, that is the reality we will experience. If we belive that too few choices creates happiness/unhappiness, that is the reality we will experience. Change our thoughts, we may change our feelings, which may change our life experience.

    We are the ONLY ones who can change our own perception of anything. We can take in information from many different sources, and as thinking, feeling adults, we are the only ones responsible for the choices/decisions we make...or don't make:>)

    In any given situation, I absorb as much information as possible regarding the situation and choices I have available to me at that time, and will either attempt to change the situation, or change my perception of the situation.
    One important mantra (I know you like mantras) in my life is:
    "Grant me the serenity to accept things I cannot change, courage to change the things I can, and wisdom to know the difference".

    Yes, I definitely believe that things/consumerism can be seperated from happiness...IF... one chooses to do so. I don't observe that having "stuff" creates happiness. Look at the USA...one of the most abundant countries in our world, where there is also one of the highest crime rates, one of the highest rates of substance abuse, and antidepressant use...etc. These behaviors do not reflect happiness/contentment.
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      May 7 2012: Hello Colleen,

      I too, like to feel that I have choices. I am also willing to accept that at times the only choice available is the choice to choose my attitude.

      Yes, happiness is a choice and choosing our thoughts is what creates happiness. Mindfulness makes the difference on a moment to moment basis.

      I, too, take full responsibility to change my perception of anything, and I choose a perception that is a win-win and is all-embracing. By this, I mean, I choose a perception that is respectful of myself and of others. I call it A Creator's Perspective.

      When I feel I do not have a choice, I see this as a "Psycho-Perceptual Leak" - what I refer to fondly as a "ppleak" - it just helps bring me back to my senses with compassion and humor!

      Colleen you say:
      One important mantra (I know you like mantras) in my life is:
      "Grant me the serenity to accept things I cannot change, courage to change the things I can, and wisdom to know the difference".

      When I was 12, I wrote out this mantra and had it on a wall in my room. It is the one most important thing
      that has offered me peace, encouragement and support!
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        May 11 2012: Hi Aneesah,
        I like the word "ppleak"...not only does it send an important message....it also causes me to smile:>)

        You discovered that mantra at age 12? Good for you! I think I was a young adult by the time I came upon it, and it simply made sense from the first time I saw it! At the same time, I was asking myself questions, which I feel are connected to that mantra.

        When faced with a challenge that may have caused anger, confusion or frustration (fear), I asked myself...how important is this? How much energy do I want to "spend", and how do I want to spend the energy? At the end of the day...week....month....year....or even in 5 or 10 years...how important is this issue and how can I best spend my energy now...in the moment.....to understand, resolve, or let go?

        The mantra and this questioning of myself often puts things in a different perspective which seems more manageable. Wisdom to know the difference regarding what I can change and what I cannot is VERY beneficial, and that lesson was strongly reinforced during and after the near fatal head injury.

        I could not function for awhile....period!!! There was no point in spending my energy on fear, frustration, anger, disappointment, displeasure, etc. etc. The mission was to heal to the best of my ability, and it was amazing how things happened and fell into place when I simply let go of any need or desire to control anything! I had the option to spend my energy worrying about all the things I was NOT doing, and I had the option to know exactly what I could and would do.....heal. It was a good lesson in letting go:>)
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    May 7 2012: I do believe simplicity is the answer when facing equal or almost equal weighted factors in our everyday decisions like what to wear or where to park our car... But they are situations we need to make a decision, in other words we have no choice but to make a choice!! Like buying a house, applying a job etc.
    These situations are a kind of "problem" or as they say in systems approach, a "mess". We can solve, resole, absolve or dissolve them. I don't what to go to details and define each one of them. But I think the first three approaches are for when we think the problem is unchangeable but by taking "dissolving" approach, we are changing the paradigm behind the questions and choices we have.
    What I'm trying to say is to make less choices, we have to change our paradigm first, otherwise we have too many problems we need to answer.
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      May 7 2012: Hi Reza,
      I notice from your profile that you are an engineer, and your statement..."These situations are a kind of "problem" or as they say in systems approach, a "mess", reminds me of a saying a good buddy retired engineer friend of mine uses a lot...

      "It's not a problem...it's a feature"

      He also believes, as I do, and as you apparently do, that situations can be percieved in many different ways...we can percieve it as a problem... or... a feature, which causes us to stretch our intelligence, creativity and imagination:>)
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        May 7 2012: Hi Colleen,
        Thanks for your comment. I found nothing on your profile so I can refer it to you! :D
        I totally agree with you and your wise friend. The word "problem" is somehow negative. I used it because I define it as "a situation that causes difficulties".
        I think confronting with so many choices these days, is a difficult situation for us since whenever we choose one option, we may regret losing others. This continues until we can change our paradigm and maybe design another one. :)
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          May 11 2012: Hi Reza,
          I think the word "problem" immediately sets the stage for the belief that the situation we are facing is going to be a struggle, and sometimes, that causes us to immediately resist possibilities. I find that the little phrase..."it's not a problem...it's a feature", causes me to open the mind and heart (logic and intuition) to allow more possibilities for solutions. It also often causes me to laugh at the situation, rather than struggle with it, which also opens the heart and mind to increased possibilities:>)

          To experience regret, is a choice in my perception. When I take in all information regarding a decision/choice, I feel confident that I have weighed many options, and have made the best choice in the moment. There is no looking back, because I feel I have done the best I could with the information I had at the time. I have no regrets:>)

          I agree..."any behavior patterns continue until we can change our paradigm and maybe design another one". Sometimes, changing paradigms starts with one little word...one little step:>)
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        May 11 2012: Hi Colleen,

        I really connect with your comment: To experience regret, is a choice in my perception.


        Regret is a choice!
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          May 11 2012: Yes indeed Aneesah. It is one option we have regarding how we "spend" our energy.

          "Life begets life
          Energy creates energy
          It is by spending oneself that one becomes rich"
          (Sarah Bernhardt)

          The question, for me, is always...how do I want to spend my energy, and what do I want to create in my life experiences? It is by pondering these questions and answers that I connect with options:>)

          I want to clarify something in my previous comment:
          I stated..."There is no looking back".
          What I meant, is that there is no looking back with regret. I DO look back at times, for the purpose of learning:>)
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    May 7 2012: Yes having option makes all humans happier but the thing is when we doesnt have option that doesnt mean that we should change our perception ........... i will say we should carry with that and find that for what we are working and their we should not search for option if we are much passionate about it.
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      May 7 2012: Kashaf, if I understand you correctly, I think you are referring to following our dreams.

      Over the years, when someone tells me that what I want to do is "impossible", like do 3 majors, I become even more determined to show that it can be done! My passion for human potential makes me want to transcend all limits!

      In the same way, I believe we have a potential for great happiness no matter what the circumstance!